Social Justice Series

Libraries Working Towards Social Justice

Over the course of the coming year, the Burlington Public Library will explore current social justice issues, including systemic racism, voter suppression and the criminal justice system.


The Library is partnering with Burlington High School to make these programs available to both the students of Burlington and the Burlington community.   We are also collaborating with and sharing resources with seven other Merrimack Valley Libraries to make larger, quarterly programs possible.   Our collaborative series, "Libraries Working Towards Social Justice," is offered in partnership with Haverhill Public Library, Lawrence Public Library, Memorial Hall Library, Nevins Memorial Library, Stevens Memorial Library, Tewksbury Public Library and Wilmington Memorial Library.

A listing of March events hosted by participating libraries can be found at:

Rights & Wrongs: Black Women and the History of Voting  

with Dr. Kellie Carter-Jackson

Date: Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Time: 7pm

Location: Online via Zoom and Facebook.  Advanced registration is required to attend via Zoom.  Register HERE.  This program will also be Live Streamed to Facebook where registration is not required.

Dr. Carter-Jackson

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, granting women the right to vote. Join us for the history of Black women and their pivotal roles in the women's suffrage movement and the Voting Rights Act. Dr. Jackson will explore the history of the vote in the African American community, including rampant voter suppression, and explore the ways Black women have advocated for political change with their voices and eventually their votes. 

About the Presenter:

Dr. Kellie Carter-Jackson is the Knafel Assistant Professor of the Humanities in the Department of Africana Studies at Wellesley College.

Race and Climate Justice  

with Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Esq.

Date: Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Time: 7pm

Location: Online via Zoom and Facebook.  Advanced registration is required to attend via Zoom.  Register HERE.  This program will also be Live Streamed to Facebook where registration is not required.

IvanWith the advent of COVID-19, the intersection of race and environmental discrimination became apparent as low-income communities of color and immigrant communities were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.  Addressing the impact of COVID-19 won’t end these disparities, however, as climate change continues to adversely impact these communities and create climate refugees.   At the same time, the 'green economy' is providing an opportunity for individuals not only to address these climate disparities but to benefit from the economic opportunities presented by a growing industry.

About the Presenter:

Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Esq., Executive Director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, is an expert in legal protections for people of color and immigrants. He has filed and won dozens of life-changing and law-changing cases across the country on behalf of people of color and immigrants. He advises federal and state policymakers on the legal needs of marginalized communities. His work is regularly featured in publications such as the New York Times.

Past Events

Exploring Systemic Racism – A panel discussion

Picture of panelists

If you missed this live discussion, you can watch the recording HERE

Mr. Devon Crawford, Dr. Brandon Crowley, and Rev. Alicia Johnson will hold a panel discussion on systemic racism.  Systemic racism is embedded as normal practice in nearly every aspect of American life.  It refers to the systems in place that maintain racial inequities by creating disparities in the criminal justice system, employment, housing, health care, politics, and education.  Systemic racism is particularly insidious because we may not even recognize that it exists.  

Mr. Devon Jerome Crawford is the Director of the William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  Dr. Brandon Crowley serves as the Senior Pastor of The Historic Myrtle Baptist Church of West Newton, MA and as an adjunct instructor for Harvard Divinity School.  The Reverend Alicia Marie Johnson serves as the Assistant Pastor of the Historic Myrtle Baptist Church and as the Assistant Director of the MIT/Wellesley Upward Bound Program.  

Voter Suppression with Dave Daley 

Dave Daleycropped

If you missed this live discussion, you can watch the recording HERE

Voter suppression did not end with Jim Crow.  New barriers to the ballot box have been erected and these new barriers disproportionately affect racial minorities.  Dave Daley, of FairVote and author of "Unrigged", will speak about the tactics used to limit the ability of voters to exercise their right to vote.

Immigration: Current Perspectives and Changing the Conversation

If you missed this live discussion, you can watch the recording HERE.

As a part of the limmigrationibrary's Social Justice Series, the library invites immigration experts to discuss the support and protection of immigrant rights, how to be an ally to immigrants, and how to change the current conversation as it relates to immigrants in America. Join us as we learn from the talents and expertise of Denzil Mohammed (The ILC Public Education Institute Director), Margalit Tepper (Integration Projects Lead, Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition), and Violeta Haralampieva (Staff Attorney, PAIR Project).

Mass Incarceration: A Time For Reform with Alexi Jones

If you missed this live discussion, you can watch the recording HERE.

Jail CellMass incarceration is one of the most pressing social justice issues in the United States. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and our prisons and jails are disproportionately filled with Black people, people living in poverty, and people with mental health and substance use disorders.

Alexi Jones, a policy analyst at the Prison Policy Initiative, will break down some of the most pressing issues in criminal justice reform, including the shockingly high number of people who are locked up in the United States, the stark racial disparities throughout our criminal justice system, and areas that are ripe for reform.

Norman Rockwell: Inclusion, Exclusion and Evolving Views on Race with Jane Oneail

If you missed this live discussion, you can watch the recording HERE.

Painting titled The Problem We All Live WithNorman Rockwell is heralded for depicting and defining American life. He often captured bittersweet images of people experiencing universal and relatable feelings of being left out or left behind. Yet, as an artist working in the 20th century, his works are curiously devoid of America’s rich cultural and racial diversity. Toward the end of his career, Rockwell painted several poignant works about race in America that can be seen as an extension of his earlier sense of the power of inclusion and exclusion.  

Jane Oneail is an independent scholar and holds a master's in Art History from Boston University and a master's in Art in Education from Harvard University.

Author E. Dolores Johnson in Conversation with Grace Talusan

If you missed this live discussion, you can watch the recording HERE.

E. Dolores Johnson with book cover of "Say I'm Dead."

E. Dolores Johnson will discuss her new book with author, Grace Talusan. Say I'm Dead, A Family Memoir of Race, Secrets and Love is a multi-generational memoir that reveals America's changing attitudes toward race mixing.

Johnson's parents fled to Buffalo from Indianapolis so they could marry without violating Indiana's anti-miscegenation laws. Her father was black and her mother was white. Johnson details her journey unearthing the secrets of her family, and in so doing, wrestles with identity, class, and education, aiming a potent lens at what it means to be biracial and shining more light on the racism that continues to sicken this country to this day.

About the Interviewer: 

Grace Talusan's memoir, The Body Papers,  is a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection, a winner in nonfiction for the Massachusetts Book Awards, and winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing.